Healthy Tips

Cherry Chocolate Smoothie

½ cup nonfat Greek Yogurt

½ cup vanilla almond milk

½ cup Oregon Fruit Dark Sweet Cherries, drained syrup reserved

2 Tbs. Dark Sweet Cherry Syrup

1/8 tsp almond extract

1 Tbs. Dark Chocolate Chips

½ cup crushed ice


Put all ingredients in the blender and blend until smooth. Serve immediately. Serves 1



What’s Better than Cherries and Chocolate?

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Posted February 27th, 2012 in Healthy Eating, Healthy Tips, In the Kitchen, Posts

Some of the latest research on both of these foods has demonstrated how good they are for us. Of course we are talking about SMALL amounts of good dark chocolate, not the whole 1 lb. bag of peanut M&M’s! And everything in moderation is a good rule of thumb.

Coffee has also had some good food press and once again we have to talk about the whole moderation thing.  I don’t think anyone would recommend the 8-10 cups of coffee I typically drink in a day.  But I rationalize that I don’t have any trouble sleeping since the minute I sit down at night I am pretty much asleep and am pretty healthy all things considered. However, the fact that I talk pretty fast and move even faster most of the time could be considered annoying by those close to me.

Inspired by a coffee house drink, my friend Kitty who I met in a cooking class at the local Natural Foods Coop, had a dream about Mocha Cherry Muffins.  She suggested I make them with an all natural dark chocolate brownie mix using the pumpkin or yogurt variation so as to reduce the fat, then add some coffee and dark sweet cherries.  It sounded pretty good to me so I gave it a try.  These are REALLY GOOD!  I think she needs a notepad and paper by her bed. She might have a cook book in her dreams.

But back to the whole moderation thing….although these are good for you and low fat, please don’t eat the whole batch in one sitting.  Take them to work or share with your neighbors. They will thank you and you will thank me.


Let’s See if We Can Keep Our Resolutions Until March!

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Posted January 6th, 2012 in Gadgets & Gizmos, Healthy Eating, Healthy Tips

I was working out with my personal trainer at the gym today (I am SUCH a New Year’s cliché!).  He told me that most people drop their gym memberships purchased in January, by Valentine’s Day.  I am determined not to be one of those people so I have signed up for several runs of increasing lengths leading up to a couple of sprint triathlons this summer.  I am only sharing this with you, the Oregon Fruit faithful because in this same conversation, my trainer and I discussed nutrition in some depth.  We talked about the benefits of eating more small meals and snacks as opposed to the typical American way-3 large portioned meals and long periods of starvation leading to grabbing something bad for us on the run.

Last year I made a real effort to incorporate more fruits and vegetables and I was largely successful.  Some ways I accomplished this was to add them in as snacks-killing two birds with one stone. One of my favorites is take a can of Oregon Fruit Blueberries, drained. Blend it with a cup of non fat Greek yogurt and a half a frozen banana. If you have a handful of spinach, throw it in. If you have some leftover steamed vegetables like green beans, carrots or beets throw them in or add some green grapes or an apple that has become a bit soft.   In this form you will get up to 23grams of protein and several servings of fruits and vegetables but the vegetables are largely hidden.  You can have this mid afternoon or in the evening after dinner. It also makes a great breakfast. Put it in one of those insulated cups with a lid and a straw and take it with you on the run.

Another important dietary need is fiber and a great place to get it is popcorn.  Popcorn is a whole grain and is gluten free. During our annual neighborhood Christmas dinner several of my friends raved about a new kitchen gadget called “Whirley Pop”.  I was pretty skeptical because I eat popcorn almost every night and I was pretty attached to my 94% fat free microwave, portion controlled popcorn. I am aware that there are chemicals and it tastes kind of fake but I couldn’t imagine freshly made popcorn without butter would be any good at all. I was so wrong. This gadget makes DELCIOUS popcorn. I use a couple of teaspoons of olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt.  It smells like a movie theatre, tastes delicious, and there is nothing fake about it.  I use this new gadget literally everyday!

So for 2012 I am going to stick with my trainer and try to beat the average length of a New Year’s resolution.


Healthy Fruit from a CAN?

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Posted October 28th, 2011 in Healthy Eating, Healthy Tips, Posts

Last time we talked about the new “My Plate” guidelines designed to help consumers make better food selection choices and how the Supermarket industry is trying to help as well with food ranking systems right on the shelf.  I visited my local Raley’s store in Sacramento to check out the NuVal rankings of Oregon Fruit and found that our Red Tart Cherries packed in Water scored a 97!  That was one of the highest scores in the section.  

A recent article from Oregon State University Health Magazine talked about how the antioxidant levels and flavonoid activity (nutrients which offer protection from oxidative damage, a key association to many age related diseases) was actually HIGHER in canned blueberries than that of frozen or fresh. That study actually used Oregon Fruit when they did the research several years ago.

The key message continues to be –add more plant based foods in any form to your diet.  Canned fruit is convenient as it can be kept on hand at all times. It is already clean and ready to eat, pits are removed as well.  In the long run it saves you money because you never have to throw away spoiled fruit.  Don’t get me wrong, I am a weekly farmer’s market girl. I like to support local farmers and eat food that is as fresh as possible.  But I supplement with canned fruits and veggies for convenience and I feel good about it knowing that canning is a great form of food preservation, locking in most of the nutrients and adding a minimum of ingredients. 

Like today-I have to bring an appetizer to my neighborhood party tomorrow, The Castro Crush.  It’s a block party with a wine theme.  I can’t think of a better wine partner than good, fresh baked bread dipped in olive oil and balsamic vinegar with a sprinkling of black pepper.  So I looked in my pantry and found all the ingredients for a Cherry Focaccia.  It’s fragrant with fresh sage from my garden, beautiful with the tart cherries and a little bit spicy with cracked pepper and a sprinkling of pink Himalayan salt, coarsely ground.   I whipped this up in no time with things I had on hand. 

The bonus is how amazing my house smells right now. The trick will be if this treat actually makes it to the party. 

Happy Halloween!

Good Nutrition on a Plate

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Posted October 14th, 2011 in Healthy Eating, Healthy Tips, Posts

How we feed ourselves has occupied a majority of the human effort since the beginning of time.  As we have developed as a society more and more of the food preparation has been taken over by the food industry and less is done by individuals and families.

We no longer actually know how to feed ourselves properly.  The government is trying valiantly to educate us. The food pyramid was a solid attempt but it fell out of favor when it became clear that we really didn’t eat near enough fruits and vegetables in all forms.  The segment of the pyramid devoted to this category was too small.  Retailers all over the country recognize some responsibility in trying to educate consumers as to how to procure good nutrition. It’s also in their best interest to help people make good choices in the supermarket and learn how to prepare quality meals. The better we get at it, the less often we will choose food prepared by others such as fast food and restaurant meals.

But retailers cannot seem to agree on the best way to communicate this education. There is “NuVal” where every item in the store is ranked from 0-100 with 100 being the best choice.  It is a complicated algorithm of calories, fiber, added sugar, protein etc.  Other retailers are using “Guiding Stars” where the more stars the better. 

In 2010, First Lady Michelle Obama asked the food industry to develop a front-of-pack labeling system that could be widely adopted on food packages and that would help busy consumers—especially parents—make informed decisions when they shop. In response, America’s food and beverage manufacturers and retailers have joined forces to develop and implement the Nutrition Keys initiative, a voluntary front-of-pack nutrition labeling system that will provide nutrition information including calories and three “nutrients to limit.” The four basic icons, for calories, saturated fat, sodium and sugars, represent key nutrients for which dietary guidance recommend limiting consumption in the diet. The four basic icons are always presented together as a consistent set. 

Nutritional decisions are further complicated by the fact that many of us do not know how to cook and rely on others to inform us or simply cook for us. With the epidemic of obesity in America today, we are facing a generation that may not live as long as their parents for the first time in history.  We all need to get involved.  The short answer to good nutrition is this:

1)      Eat less calories than you burn in exercise

2)      Move more

3)      Increase the amount of fruit and vegetables in all forms that  we eat

4)      Consume more minimally processed foods

The government came up with a great answer to the pyramid-A PLATE!  Make sure that at least half your plate is made up of fruits and vegetables. Split the other half with whole grains and lean protein.  Use a minimal amount of “good” fat and cut back or cut out sugar. 

Lastly, let’s all look around for our motivation.  Get a work out buddy, a dog or take a class.  Make a commitment, make a goal. Here is mine-I am running the annual “Run to Feed the Hungry” on Thanksgiving.  I have just made myself accountable to all of you. 

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